Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Saturday, November 13, 2010

1 Decedent, 100 Widows

From Time:

When your nickname is "Danger" because of your irresistible charms to women, then your reputation is pretty much secured — even after death.

Ancentus Akuku, a legendary Kenyan polygamist, passed away due to natural causes; he was in his late 90s. He first married in 1939, became a polygamist at 22 and married his last wife in 1992. He had more than 100 wives, and more than 200 children, each of whom he named personally. He had so many children that he set up two schools to educate them.

During Akuku's prime, polygamy was a generally accepted practice in Kenya. Now, though, women have gained status in the country, and most say his situation would be nearly impossible in today's society. If he had been American, though, he would have instantly been given a reality show on TLC.

Read the article and see a related video here.



November 13, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Venzor: "Protecting the Unborn Child: The Current State of International Law Concerning the So-Called Right to Abortion and Intervention by the Holy See"

Thomas Venzor has posted "Protecting the Unborn Child: The Current State of International Law Concerning the So-Called Right to Abortion and Intervention by the Holy See" (forthcoming Nebraska Law Review) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

This article reviews the current state of international human rights law on the issue of abortion.

This paper proposes that there are three areas where the "right" to abortion might be invoked (i.e., mother's life; preservation of the mother's health; mother has suffered rape or incest). Outside of these three situations, any legal notion that access to abortion ought to be a human right is mostly unfounded and, perhaps, wishful thinking. Furthermore, although these three situations would hold the best argumentative grounds for a right to abortion, it remains difficult to claim that these situations would actually qualify to the extent of a right under international law.

Part I discusses the current state of legal affairs on the so-called right to abortion. Part I analyzes the international system of human rights, namely, the United Nations. Part I also analyzes regional systems of human rights, namely, the European Convention on Human rights and the Organization of American States.

Part II discusses the role of the Holy See within international human rights. Part II gives a general overview of the Holy See's historical role in human rights, a general overview of its cohesive and immutable teaching on abortion, and analyzes what the Holy See, as a Permanent Observer to the United Nations, can offer human rights discourse concerning the issue of abortion.

In conclusion, the current state of the law should not be read as elevating abortion to the level of an international human right. However, the reality that it could attain such a status is not out-of-the-question. Because of this, it is necessary for the Holy See to remain a prominent figure in this heated and passionate dialogue.


November 12, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Best Family Law J.D. Programs

See a set of rankings here.



November 12, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tabasso: "With or Without You: Divorce Rates and Intra-Household Allocation of Time"

Domenico Tabasso has posted "With or Without You: Divorce Rates and Intra-Household Allocation of Time" on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

This paper investigates the relationship between the probability of divorce and marriage specific investments. As these investments in terms of childcare and household activities are likely to increase the marital surplus, they are consequently likely to decrease the risk of divorce. All such activities, however, are characterized by gender role bias through, for example, social norms. In periods in which married women enjoy greater outside options (e.g., by increasing their labor force participation), it is expected that households in which the husband takes on typically female chores are less likely to dissolve, while couples in which the wife takes on typically male chores are more likely to divorce. The paper tests this hypothesis using data from the National Longitudinal Survey (NLS) of Mature Women, the NLS Young Women, and the NLSY79. The prediction is strongly supported by the data with respect to older cohorts while it loses empirical relevance when tested on younger individuals. Furthermore, asymmetric effects between genders gain importance over time. Finally, an explanation for the relationship between divorce and marital investments is offered in terms of increasing intra-household time consumption complementarities. To this end, data from the American Time Use Surveys from 1965 to 2005 are studied to illustrate how time spent together by partners in the same household has become increasingly crucial in the American family.


November 11, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Young Mother

More details have emerged about the 10-year-old mother in Spain, whose own mother is pleased by the birth of her grandchild.  Read about it here.


November 11, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Caceres-Delpiano & Giolito: "The Impact of Unilateral Divorce on Crime"

Julio Caceres-Delpiano (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid) & Eugenio Giolito (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)) have posted "The Impact of Unilateral Divorce on Crime" on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Using data from the FBI´s Uniform Crime Report program and differences in the timing of the reform’s introduction, we find that unilateral divorce increases violent crime rates by approximately 9 percent during the period under analysis. Arrest data shows an average increase of 18% for murder and 20% for aggravated assault arrest rates over the period 1965-1997. Then, using age at the time of the reform as an additional source of variation, our findings suggest that the impact of unilateral divorce is driven by cohorts of young adults who were children at the time of the reform. These results are robust to a specification that controls for confounding factors that may operate at the state-year level. We find consistent results on the impact of the reform on the likelihood of an individual being institutionalized, using Census data for the period 1960-2000. We argue that the main channel behind our findings is the increase in poverty and inequality among families which were “surprised” by the reform. Specifically, we show that mothers in adopting states are more likely to be the household head and to fall below the poverty line, especially those with lower levels of education.


November 10, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Parkinson, Cashmore & Single: "The Need for Reality Testing in Relocation Cases"

Patrick Parkinson (University of Sydney Law School), Judith Cashmore (University of Sydney Faculty of Law) & Judi Single (University of Sydney Faculty of Law) have posted "The Need for Reality Testing in Relocation Cases" (44 Family Law Quarterly 1) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

This article reports on the world’s first prospective longitudinal study of relocation disputes, otherwise known as ‘mobility’ or ‘moving away’ cases. Interviews were conducted with 80 parents who have been involved in relocation disputes in Australia. The majority were proposed relocations to different states in Australia. In ten cases the proposed relocation was overseas. In all but two cases the applicant for relocation was the mother. Fifty-nine per cent of the cases required a judicial determination. This compares with about 13% of family law cases in Australia generally that are not resolved without a trial being commenced. This indicates how difficult these cases are to settle. The costs of the legal dispute caused severe hardship to parents, with 11 parents losing their homes. In a few cases where mothers were allowed to move, they either decided not to do so or returned within a year afterwards. Six fathers have so far followed the mother. In some cases, non-resident parents have lost contact with their children following the relocation or have had significant difficulties maintaining the level of contact envisioned by the court. In other cases, there have been issues about the burden of travel on the children.

The research indicates the importance of reality testing in relocation disputes both by lawyers in advising their clients, and by judges. The realities that need to be considered are the legal costs both in applying for relocation and opposing it, particularly if the case does not settle early, the cost and burden of travel if the relocation takes place, particularly with young children, and whether the proposed visitation plan can and will be maintained.


November 10, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Chuang: “Rescuing Trafficking from Ideological Capture: Prostitution Reform and Anti-Trafficking Law and Policy”

Janie A. Chuang (American University - Washington College of Law) has posted Rescuing Trafficking from Ideological Capture: Prostitution Reform and Anti-Trafficking Law and Policy, 158 University of Pennsylvania Law Review (forthcoming 2010) on SSRN.  Here is an excerpt of the abstract:

This Article. . .offers a historical account and critical assessment of the prostitution-reform debates' considerable influence on anti-trafficking law and policy development over the last decade. It does so to expose the difficulties of translating ideology - understood here as closely held moral and ethical beliefs - into effective governance strategies. There is an urgent need to adopt and emphasize policies that are guided foremost by a pragmatic, evidence-based approach that grapples with the real-world complexities of human trafficking. This empirical approach requires us to set aside our narrow ideological commitments and to objectively evaluate the actual impact that “anti-trafficking” interventions have both on those they purport to help and on the vulnerable populations they collaterally affect.


November 10, 2010 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fetal Origins

From Time:

This is the provocative contention of a field known as fetal origins, whose pioneers assert that the nine months of gestation constitute the most consequential period of our lives, permanently influencing the wiring of the brain and the functioning of organs such as the heart, liver and pancreas. In the literature on the subject, which has exploded over the past 10 years, you can find references to the fetal origins of cancer, cardiovascular disease, allergies, asthma, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, mental illness. At the farthest edge of fetal-origins research, scientists are exploring the possibility that intrauterine conditions influence not only our physical health but also our intelligence, temperament, even our sanity.

Read more about this (relatively) newly hot scientific field here.



November 9, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 8, 2010


Humorous new study of women's perceptions about their mothers-in-law:

If you hate your mother-in-law so much that you'd rather have a root canal than visit her, you are not alone.

A new survey has found that many women think of their husbands' moms as "monster-in-laws" and would do almost anything to get out of spending time with them.

Fifty-one percent say they would rather stay home and clean the house than have to listen to their mothers-in-law, according to the report by iVillage, a women's-interest Web site that boasts 30 million visitors a month.

It also found that 36 percent of women would rather visit a gynecologist, 30 percent would rather do jury duty and 28 percent would prefer to either do their taxes or get a root canal.

The study also found that 28 percent of women reported a "terrible" or "bad" relationship with their hubby's mom.

And when it comes to kids, the feelings were even stronger -- 76 percent said they would never seek parenting advice from a mother-in-law. Eighty-three percent said they would never ask for relationship advice from their mother-in-law, and 94 percent wouldn't seek advice on their sex life from her.

Read more here.


November 8, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

European Law on Maintenance Expanding Reach

According to the, “Parents in family disputes who are ordered to pay maintenance and who go to another EU state will face enforcement proceedings there under a new EU regulation Ireland has signed.”  Read more here.



November 8, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ethiopian Adoptions Buck Global Trend

From the Associated Press:

As the overall number of international adoptions by Americans plummets, one country — Ethiopia — is emphatically bucking the trend, sending record numbers of children to the U.S. while winning praise for improving orphans' prospects at home.

It's a remarkable, little-publicized trend, unfolding in an impoverished African country with an estimated 5 million orphans and homeless children, on a continent that has been wary of international adoption.

Just six years ago, at the peak of international adoption, there were 284 Ethiopian children among the 22,990 foreign kids adopted by Americans. For the 2010 fiscal year, the State Department projects there will be about 2,500 adoptions from Ethiopia out of fewer than 11,000 overall — and Ethiopia is on the verge of overtaking China as the top source country.

The needs are enormous; many of Ethiopia's orphans live on the streets or in crowded institutions. There's constant wariness, as in many developing countries, that unscrupulous baby-sellers will infiltrate the adoption process.

The global adoption landscape has changed dramatically since 2004. China, Russia and South Korea have reduced the once large numbers of children made available to foreigners while trying to encourage domestic alternatives. There have been suspensions of adoptions from Guatemala, Vietnam and Nepal due to fraud and corruption.

In contrast, Ethiopia has emerged as a land of opportunity for U.S. adoption agencies and faith-based groups. Several have been very active there in the past few years, arranging adoptions for U.S. families while helping Ethiopian authorities and charitable groups find ways to place more orphans with local families.

In Kyrgyzstan, the government suspended adoptions in 2008 because of suspected corruption, leaving more than 60 U.S. families with pending adoptions in limbo. Plans to resume the process have been disrupted by recent political upheaval, though Jacobs said she remains hopeful that a new adoption law could be passed whenever a newly elected parliament is able to convene.

Adoptions of abandoned children from Nepal have been suspended by the U.S. government until Nepalese authorities implement procedures to curtail corruption and mismanagement. Jacobs said 80 pending U.S. adoptions are under review by the State Department.

The suspension has been criticized by some U.S. adoption advocates.

"When you close a country, you end up causing more problems than you prevented," said Chuck Johnson, CEO of the National Council for Adoption. "What happens to the kids who aren't adopted in Nepal? Some will end up as prostitutes and slaves."

Read the full story here.


November 7, 2010 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)